Pakistan Bans Valentines Day

Pakistan bans Valentine’s Day on TV, radio

Islamabad High Court said the holiday was a cultural import from the West.

Pakistan has banned events promoting Valentine’s Day, and media coverage of any such events, for the second year in a row after a court ruled the holiday un-Islamic.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) issued an advisory on Wednesday warning television and radio stations against any Valentine’s Day events.

“No event shall be held at the official level or at any public place,” Pemra said.

The ban was introduced by Islamabad High Court last year after a petition by a citizen who said the holiday was a cultural import from the West and “against the teachings of Islam”.

Many of the Muslim-majority nation’s young people – more than 60 percent of the population is under age 30 – and commercial establishments have in recent years embraced Valentine’s Day traditions of hearts, flowers and chocolates.

But the country of 208 million has also seen a new wave of ultra-religious political activism that sparked a backlash against such visible, and some say immoral, celebrations.

No love in Pakistan for Valentine’s Day broadcasts

Pakistan’s media regulator has banned television channels and radio stations from broadcasting programming related to Valentine’s Day, according to a statement, in compliance with a court order.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) announced the ban on Wednesday, in compliance with an order from the Islamabad High Court issued last year.

Valentine’s Day, named after a Christian saint who died for love, is often marked across Muslim-majority Pakistan, with retailers offering themed sales, restaurants advertising special deals for couples and florists registering booming sales.

Petitioner Abdul Waheed had filed a case in early 2017 contending that the celebration of Valentine’s Day was spreading “immorality, nudity and indecency” in Pakistan.

On February 13, a day before last year’s Valentine’s Day, Judge Shaukat Siddiqui issued a binding notice ordering a complete ban on any broadcast programming related to Valentine’s Day, as well as other restrictions.

“No event shall be held at official level and at any public place,” the court ordered at the time.

A final verdict is yet to be issued in the case, which has been ongoing for more than a year.

The 2017 case came after Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain raised a furore a year earlier, declaring the event a Western cultural import that threatens Pakistani values.

“Valentine’s Day has no connection with our culture and it should be avoided,” Hussain said at the time.

In the past, civic authorities have shrugged off imposition of the ban, saying they cannot shut down every business that advertises promotions in relation to the event.

Cultural clash

Commercial holidays and events such as Valentine’s Day are increasingly becoming sites for cultural contestation in Pakistan.

Last year, online retailers offering ‘Black Friday’ sales in November – in line with a tradition mainly followed in the United States after the Thanksgiving holiday – faced social media backlash, with users accusing them of denigrating the Muslim day of weekly congregational prayers.

The move saw many businesses scramble to rebrand their sales, with some declaring they were holding ‘White Friday’ or ‘Green Friday’ sales, using colours considered more culturally ‘Islamic’.

The contestation over perceived Western influence has also sometimes led to violent protests and attacks.


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